for rustic Ubin
by Lydia Lim, the Straits Times, 15 Jan 02
version on Straits Times Interactive
Reclamation put off to preserve Chek Jawa
Alternative site found on mainland for military use
Rustic Pulau Ubin, which had been earmarked for reclamation, will be left
intact for at least 10 years. This is to preserve Chek Jawa, a beach at
the island's eastern tip, in its natural state, the Ministry of National
Development said in a statement yesterday.
A multi-billion-dollar project, approved in 1992, would have destroyed
the beach and killed the many marine creatures that live there to create
3,310 ha of land at Singapore's north-eastern islands of Ubin and Tekong.
By not reclaiming Ubin at all, the Government will forego about 270 ha
of land, the equivalent of five Bishan Parks, slated for military use.
MND reached its decision after consulting scientists and interested individuals
from the National Institute of Education, the Raffles Museum of Biodiversity
Research and the Nature Society.
They had recommended that if reclamation were to be carried out, it should
be limited to only a very small area of Pulau Ubin, in order not to harm
the 'fragile ecosystems' at Chek Jawa.
But the ministry came to the conclusion that it is not cost-effective
to reclaim such a small area. It has, therefore, decided not to proceed
with reclamation works at Pulau Ubin 'for as long as the island is not
required for development', the statement said.
MND also announced that the National Parks Board would set up a committee
comprising representatives from the Nature Society, Raffles Museum of
Biodiversity Research and other experts to work out a 'comprehensive plan'
to maintain Chek Jawa's unique ecosystem. Among other things, the panel
would look into the provision of amenities like board-walks and trained
guides. It would also conduct research to monitor the health of the marine
animals and plants.
When asked how long Chek Jawa would be safe from development, National
Development Minister Mah Bow Tan replied: 'I don't expect Ubin to be needed
for development for a long time to come. But I think we have to keep our
At an interview in his office yesterday, Mr Mah also said that his ministry
was not ready to discuss the gazetting of Chek Jawa as a nature area.
'I don't think we are in a position yet to make that decision. We'll leave
that decision to the next 10 years, when we do our next Concept Plan,'
he said. The Concept Plan, Singapore's blueprint for long-term land use,
is reviewed every 10 years. The next review is due in 2011.
Meanwhile, to make up for the shortfall in land from not reclaiming Ubin,
the Urban Redevelopment Authority has found an alternative site on the
mainland for the Defence Ministry's use.
In addition to the land lost, Mr John Wei, the Housing Board's chief civil
engineer, said there will also be 'cost implications' to varying the original
reclamation contract. HDB is the Government's reclamation agent. A joint
venture between Japanese firm Toa Corporation and Belgian company Jan
Denul was due to start reclaiming Pulau Ubin last month. However, MND
called for a halt to the works, following feedback on Chek Jawa's rich